Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Little Miami Trail, southern Ohio

Visiting the in-laws near Cincinnati this past weekend. Great people but I'm not much for coffee-klatching and it was a warm early spring day perfect for a bike ride. A few seconds of Googling found me the Little Miami Trail just a couple of miles away.

Coolest thing about a paved trail: when you take a pull on the water bottle, you don't get limestone in your mouth.

This 78-mile, paved trail more or less parallels the Little Miami River and the rails-to-trails route of a former railroad. I got on the trail at the Train Stop bar, just west of the King's Island Theme Park, and headed south into the wind.

The smooth, well-maintained asphalt is 10 feet wide. It's patched in many places but not *stupid*
patched, like it would be in Illinois. The patches were professionally applied and smoothed so that there wasn't a big bump or wide cracks.

I can't wait to ride the trail again when we return in June. Once the the trees leaf out, sections of the trail are gonna be like riding through a green leafy tunnel. There are very few cross streets, so I could really get into a rhythm.

The Little Miami Railroad ceased operations in 1962; a few reminders remain, like this rusty mechanical signal. Abraham Lincoln rode the Little Miami route on his way to Washington after his election.

I was riding on the far south end of the trail. It was perched
about halfway up the east side of the bluff along the Little Miami, providing a great view of the scenic river. On my left, the steep hillside was occasionally cut by v-shaped gullies carved by small trickling creeks.

All too soon, I reached Milford, about 15 miles from where I started. My map showed the trail ending there, but it kept going another five miles or so.

The wind began to kick up as I passed through Milford -- I really started to feel it as the trail
left the riverside and entered some more open country. Blowing dust kicked up by the gusts cut visibility to a half-mile and sent grit into my eyes. I actually caught up to a guy in a Livestrong Jersey with big-time calves. We were both knocked back to a 7-mph pace by the now-howling wind. I stopped at a Shell Station for a Diet Coke and a breather.

I think the trail kept going, but some dark clouds were rolling in on the wind and I decided to head back. I rode through a short, refreshing rain shower, and arrived back at the Train Stop tired and very ready for a beer. Carl's a great bartender -- tip him well!

BTW, my new mechanical speedometer crapped out 3.9 miles into the ride and only 45 miles after I installed it. According to Google Bike Maps, it was 22.5 miles from the Train Stop to the Shell Station. 45 miles for my first long ride of the season?! Pavement really makes a difference --- after 40 miles on limestone I thought I was going to lose a lung.

Do not shoot the motorcyclists.